Lost and Found
I told the man I was dating, “If you want children, I am not the one for you.” But he married me anyway. Years later, when there was a hole in my husband’s heart the size of a child,I told him I was still that person who did not want kids. He stood by me anyway. When I told him that, yes, we could have kids but I was scared to death, he held my hand and told me I would be a great mother.
I hear stories of women who know without a doubt that they absolutely must become mothers. This is not something I experienced. I had barely gotten myself to the cliff’s edge and convinced myself to jump off, eyes closed and hoping for the best. I could not conceive of the choice between a life I knew as comfortable and free, and a life unknown and uncharted. We don’t know what it is like to be a parent until we have done the one permanent thing in life: become a parent. And even then, we hardly know what we are doing. But there I was, agreeing to jump with my husband into whatever it was that lay ahead.
When we told our friends and family that we wanted to adopt, they looked at us sideways and wondered why. They said things like “Don’t you want to have a child of your own?” or “You could not pay me enough to raise someone else’s kid.” The idea that two supposedly fertile people would make adoption their first choice made no sense to them. But it was what I wanted and, luckily for me, my husband was in agreement.
When we metthe woman who was to be our birth mother, she told us that she had never been afraid of anything in life, until she had children. Now, she was choosing us toparent her third child, like a healthy person wouldchoose to give you their heart because you needed a transplant.
When she went into labor, she invited me into the delivery room and for the first time, I saw childbirth. I witnessed this intimate, primal transformation of the female body, as if she were my closest friend. But she was not. She was a woman I barely knew who was willing to give usa part of her.
When the baby was born, I tearfully stumbled into the hallway to tell my husband that we had a baby girl.Back in the delivery room, a nurse handed me a bundle of sweet, red, newborn baby and asked me what we would name her.Already feeling stunned and overwhelmed by my free fall toward motherhood, this question was like being hit with a boulder in midair. But that was the easy part. Moments later, an older nurse told me that there was something seriously wrong with the sweet baby I held as my own. She could not tell me more. We needed to wait for the doctor. It was three in the morning. Between three a.m. and four p.m. that day, we heard many things from many doctors, mostly telling us they knew nothing definitive. Everything could be fine or it could not be fine. And the question we faced with no information was “Is this our baby or is this not our baby?” The tragic relief came when a neonatologist gave us his diagnosis. Bone where there should be brain. Strange chromosomal anomaly. Baby will never develop past what she is now, if shelives.We left the hospital empty, but filled up on resolve to help this kind birth mother as much as we could.
After that,I concluded that adoption was just far too risky. But when I got pregnant and had a miscarriage, I concluded that pregnancy was also just far too risky. And there I sat for a good long time, sandwiched in between fears. I was unable to move forward, and unable to let go of the idea of becoming a mother. Just in free fall with no known bottom.
When we opened up our adoption again a year later, I figured we’d have time to ease ourselves back into things. As it turned out, I had used up all my easing-into-things time. Two weeks later we were in a match with another birth mother. Within two more weeks our son was born a month early and we found ourselves once again sitting in a neonatal ICU staring at screens, listening to beeping and hearing the tragedies andmiraclesof other people’s lives from the bays around us.
While this healthy, amazing four-and-a-half-pound baby lay sucking on a pacifier as big as his face, soaking up all the manufactured sunshine he couldin order to get his liver working, I sat next to him frozen and lost in my fears. Fear that he would not be okay. Fear that he was perfect, and it was I who was faulty. Fear that I may love him too much. Fear that I may get so incredibly, painfully hurt if I let my guard down. While I swirled endlessly in this small-minded thought and worry, the baby I held looked into my eyes, and into my fear with piercing wisdom and calm. In one moment of focused eye contact, he literally took my breath away. His message to me was “It’salright if you need to freak out for a while, but this is what is going to happen. We belong together. You will see that it’s all going to be okay. ThisI know.” And then his eyes went back to defocused newborn eyes, but I would never go back to being the same person again.
Our son is six now. How he became our son, or how we found each other, as we say in our family, I don’t know. But I do know that I could not have birthed a child more my own. He is beautiful and amazing. Each day of his life, he teaches me to be stronger and more filled with love, regardless of the risks and uncertainties.
Our son once asked “if we die, how will we find each other again?” Oh, don’t worry little man, we will always find eachother. It might be scary and it might be hard, but we will. You taught me that.
Adoptions by Heart
4605 S. Yosemite St.
Denver CO. 80237
*Disclaimer – Photos and testimonials may be from both present and previous clients of employment of Geri Glazer and Jeanne Reisig.